I have found that the kind of stories that people often contact me about are the ones with some public flogging or the like. There is obviously something in those themes that speak to you Readers. I wouldn't have written those stories if they didn't speak to me too. Here is another one.
They were all there, every man, woman, child and animal had left their homes to gather at the square. They fought for the best places, for the best view, everyone wanted to watch. They battled but they were happy, happy and excited. They had gathered for their favourite entertainment.
It was not a long way from the dungeons of the City Hall to the scaffold in the square. The guards were smiling when they collected me.
'Quite a crowd, lass.'
'They are happy to see you.' The other guard laughed heartily, thinking he had cracked a really good joke.
They secured my hands behind my back and didn't care much as I gasped when the ropes hurt me. My dress was flimsy as it was and with my hands behind my back I could do nothing to prevent it from sliding off my shoulder. The guards looked at me and thought I was presentable.
I walked on trembling legs and as the door opened and I met the mob, my heart began trembling as well. The excitement and the cheer that greeted me almost encouraged me, almost made me as excited as they were.
The strong guards protected me as we made our way through the crowd. I hesitated at the stair to the scaffold but was pushed onto the stage. The guards were not late to lend a helping hand that made me aware of how thin my garment was.
As I stood in front of the crowd I felt small. They shouted at me, smiled at me, welcomed me. There was no friendliness in their smiles, no kindness in their words. They had come for the entertainment, they had come to see me entertain them.
I had to stand like that for a while. The mob became impatient, urged the guards to get on with the show. I could do nothing but stand there, bound and look out over the multitude of faces. Should I keep my head high and antagonise them, or should I bow my head and be humble? Neither alternative changed what was going to happen.
Then the crowd broke out in a frenzy. They were taken by their own madness, shouting and cheering and staring. I turned my head and saw what had sparked them. I saw him.
He was the real performer, the one they had come for. He was the master and artist. They had come to see him work. They had not come for me. I was the clay he would work on, I was a tool for his skill. I was the one to be mastered by him.
He was an animal. He was clad in red trousers of leather, clinging to him like a second skin. He wore boots, heavy boots that would have crushed my bare feet had he chosen to. Around his hips hung a broad and heavy leather belt. His upper body was bare, his well tanned muscles glistening in the sun. He was at least a head taller than the guards, who, in turn, made me look small. His shoulders were broad as a bull.
His face was covered in a mask that left his mouth and jaw uncovered. He smiled. His lips were curled in a self assured and mocking smile. I saw his eyes glowing through the mask. This was his moment.
He was not a man but an animal, or if he was a man, he was twice the man compared to the ones around him. I could not look upon him without trembling and feeling faint. He was not a man you had an opinion about, he was a force of nature, far removed from sophistication and civilised life.
He was the master and this was his stage. I was to play a part in his performance. I belonged to him.
I stared at the whip that hung from his belt. It was a vicious thing, a wooden handle, worn and well used, and from that handle hung three braided tongues of leather. I knew he was master of that whip, I could almost feel the power from his body transmitted through the whip already. My body was shivering.
He had his moment, walking around the stage, bowing, smiling, raising his hands, playing the crowd with his movements, his body and splendour. They loved him.
Then he stopped. He made a gesture and the guards pushed me forward. I was stood before the crowd, at the edge of the scaffold, alone with the crowd.
I stood in silence, staring in awe at them. I was waiting, the crowd was waiting. I didn't see the gesture, I felt it. The crowd felt it. The guards took hold of my flimsy garment and tore at it. I gasped as I almost lost balance and fell. The fabric was torn from my body to the cheering and cries of the crowd.
There seemed to be one violent movement that rocked my body and tore away my clothes and when I gained my balance, I was naked. I had been stripped before the crowd and they knew they would soon be treated to their entertainment.
The guards pulled me away from the edge of the platform and pushed me towards the sturdy pole set in the middle. They pushed me against the rough surface of the pole with such force I almost lost my breath.
The ropes around my wrists were loosened and my hands were pulled forward, one on each side of the wooden post. My wrists were retied in front and to a rope that ran through a hoop at the top of the pole. Strong arms pulled at the rope and my hands were hoisted in the air.
I cried out in pain as my hands were pulled upwards. I could hardly breathe as I was lifted from the floor, only my toes in contact with the wood. When they were done, I was almost hanging from my bound wrists, my body tense and pressed to the unforgiving whipping post.
I was prepared. I had been made ready for the whip. Now it was time for the entertainment.
The man with the whip, the master of the stage, didn't speak. He just held the whip out to me, made sure I could see it. It was as if he wanted to show me the whip that soon would fall on my naked skin.
He took a step to the side and I turned my head to look at him, but I could hardly see him. The crowd fell silent. No one spoke, no one moved. They were waiting. I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead on the wood. My heart was beating hard, so hard that I wondered if not the whole town could hear it.
Then I heard the hiss of the whip. It was a short, menacing sound, sudden and merciless. My body exploded with pain in the next instant, together with a sharp and terrible report as the leather made contact with my skin.
It seemed like an eternity before I began breathing again. The chaos of pain and sound became focussed and I felt the burning marks on my body where the whip had hit me. He had chosen to whip me across my bottom, but one of the tongues had bitten my thighs.
Then came the next lash. This one took more of my breath away, since it hit higher, a little higher. I cried out in agony and pain, panicking, terrified.
He took no heed. He showed no mercy. He let the whip fall, time and again, on my unprotected body. Relentlessly did the leather tongues of the whip dance across my skin. He hit high and he hit low, concentrating on my buttocks. The whip curled around me, stinging my belly, the front of my thighs, my breasts and even my sex.
I became a wriggling, helpless body, crying in utmost agony. I didn't hear the cheering crowd nor did I see their cruel faces. The only thing that existed was the whipping post, my trembling body and the merciless whip.
It continued for an eternity but at last it was over. I hung in my aching arms, not believing another lash wasn't coming. I realised it was over, when I was let down, when eager hands took hold of my body, kept it standing when the ropes were untied.
I could hardly stand, I fell, but was held. I was not completely aware of what happened, but I was taken from the platform, back into the City Hall. I remember a dark room, a hard wooden bench, my aching body on fire and drifting off.
What happened next is another story. I was given my torn dress and left the building sometime later. It was dark outside and the town square was not crowded any more. I hurried away, didn't want to meet anyone, didn't want to be found out. I wanted to hide. I was no longer entertainment, I was just a whipped woman.